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CRC to make recommendations on how to hold gov’t accountable

CRC to make recommendations on how to hold gov’t accountable

The Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) is being tasked with making recommendations on, among other things, ways of holding the elected ministerial government accountable in the House of Assembly (HOA).
This was revealed to be part of the terms of reference for the Commission, according to a post-meeting statement of Cabinet decisions released recently.

The Commission is also expected of make recommendations on how checks and balances and mechanisms for accountability may be employed to militate against abuse of power, the Cabinet release said.

The 16-member Commission which is being chaired by Janice Stoutt is also charged with evaluating the current Virgin Islands Constitution Order, 2007, and making a determination on whether it is a strategic fit to facilitate the people of the Virgin Islands in achieving a revised vision of the preamble to the current constitution order.

This is in addition to reviewing the likely next step towards self-determination for the Virgin Islands; and considering how best the law enforcement and justice agencies can sit within the constitutional framework.

Other terms of reference for the Commission include recommendations for examining whether independent institutions enshrined in the Constitution are sufficient and effective enough to ensure good governance.

The CRC is also being asked to consider making recommendations in relation to the powers that need to be reserved to the governor, and how issues as to the exercise of devolved and reserved powers, respectively, when they arise, are to be resolved.

Recommendations are also to be made on a mechanism for the transfer of reserved powers to the devolved BVI government, in the future, without a further change to the constitution being required.

The issue of whether the Speaker should continue to be a political appointment, or whether he or she, even if elected, should be independent of the political parties will also see recommendations from the CRC.

It will also make recommendations on the proper relationship between ministers and their departments and whether statutory boards should be embedded in the constitution and if there should be a Statutory Boards Commission.

In the meantime, the Cabinet statement said the Deputy Chair and members of the CRC are to be paid a stipend of $12,000 and $10,000, respectively, upon the submission of the CRC’s final report.

This is on the provision that the amount may be prorated based on the submission of the Chairman’s report and on the members’ level of participation on the CRC.

Cabinet, while noting that the selected Chairman is currently a contracted employee of central government, said she shall be contracted as the chairperson of the CRC upon completion of the current contract with the Ministry of Finance.
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